Marc Gasol scored 20 points and Memphis made all six of its free-throw attempts in the final 63 seconds to beat Oklahoma City 87-81 in game three of their NBA playoff second round series.
Gasol scored 16 of his points in the second half on Saturday for the Grizzlies, who retained home court advantage by taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference series.
“It’s not always pretty. Tonight wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty for us because we got the win,” Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins said.
Gasol attempted just four shots in the first half and finished six-of-14 from the field in front of a crowd of 18,119. The Spaniard, who was named the NBA’s defensive player of the year last month, drained eight of his nine free-throw attempts and pulled down nine rebounds.
The game was tied at 81-81 after Oklahoma City’s Derek Fisher drained a three-pointer with 1:58 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Thunder’s Kevin Durant scored 25 points, but Durant, a 91 percent free-throw shooter during the regular season, missed two key free-throws with 39 seconds left.
Success at the foul line proved crucial as the Grizzlies made all six of their attempts in the final 1:03 to put the contest away.
Tony Allen and Mike Conley added 14 points apiece for Memphis in the win. Zach Randolph had just eight points on four-of-12 shooting.
Game four is set for today in Memphis where the Grizzlies are 18-1 dating back to Feb. 8.
Reggie Jackson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
Durant failed to surpass the 30-point plateau for just the third time in this postseason and Oklahoma City were held to just 36.4 percent shooting from the field.
“We have to keep playing and keep improving. We just have to learn from it. We have to embrace the tough times and get better from it. I believe in my teammates,” Durant said.
Gasol was fouled by Serge Ibaka following a spin move to get past Durant along the left baseline. He sank both free throws before Durant missed a short jump shot at the other end of the court. Conley then made two free throws with 50 seconds left in the fourth.
Durant drew a blocking foul on the Thunder’s next possession but he bungled both shots.
The Thunder got the ball right back on a turnover, but Fisher rushed a three-pointer and missed badly. Conley sank two foul shots with 15 seconds to help seal the victory.